The Flames took on the NHL-best Chicago Blackhawks tonight and, well, provided fans with the illusion that they could beat them in regulation before collapsing in the third period again, this time with no chance of extra-time heroics.
On the strength of two third period goals from Patick Kane, one of which coming with 18 seconds left, the Hawks overcame a 2-0 third period lead and stunned the dome crowd whom had seen Sean Monahan score a beauty early in the third to give the Flames that same 2-0 lead.
The game started with a couple early Hawks power-plays which the Flames killed off despite the Hawks having two or three grade A scoring chances including Marian Hossa undressing two defenders before being stopped with an unorthodox save by Berra. Early on, the Flames didn’t have anything resembling offense aside from a few chances from Matt Stajan while the Hawks completely controlled play. The two early Hawks power-plays seemed to stunt any early momentum that the Flames would have looked to harness from home-ice. The Flames were largely unable to generate any offense towards the front of the net and had virtually no sustained pressure on the Hawk’s Raanta.
Of note, Brian McGrattan beat the tar out of Brandon Bollig in a staged fight with four minutes left in the first. The scrap, if one is inclined to believe in the value of punching faces, seemed to spark the Flames for the rest of the period as they were able to push back a little. The Flames got to the dressing room with a scoreless draw and were likely pleased with that result as the shots were 10-10 but the Hawks held the edge in scoring chances 8-3 and shot attempts 30-13.
The second started with the Hawks controlling play again with the vast majority of the offensive zone time and the Hawks would have taken the lead if not for Patrick Sharp misfiring on a wide open net and Patrick Kane drilling the inside of the post. Reto Berra, though fond of hair-raising slides through his crease, made some key stops in the first half of the second that kept the Flames from being blown out early.
Seemingly out of nowhere, Matt Stajan hammered home a pass from Jiri Hudler in a soft spot in the Hawks d-zone coverage to put the Flames up 1-0. The Hawks then returned to completely controlling play, prompting Cuthbert to ask someone to “cue the Globetrotters music” during one particularly dominant by Kane, Toews and co. However, the Flames left the second up 1-0 and outshot the Hawks 10-5 in the Second. As far as shot attempts are concerned, the Flames managed to claw back a few more but trailed the Hawks 47-31 through two.
Early in the third, Jiri Hudler broke down the right wing and put a beautiful pass to Monahan who roofed it on Raanta to give the Flames a two goal lead. After the Monahan goal, Berra made a few key saves including a point blank shot from Versteeg. However, the seemingly requisite Reto Berra bad angle goal game mid-way through the third off a bit of a weird bounce off Russell’s stick from a Patrick Kane pseudo-shot. Then, as things have gone for Berra and the Flames this season so far, bad things came in bunches. Patrick Sharp chipped in the tying marker of a great play from Hossa 56 seconds after the Kane goal and all the hard work to gain and maintain the lead had vanished. From the Monahan goal on, the Flames went over 14 minutes without a shot on goal.
Then, with 18 seconds left off a mishandled faceoff win, Patrick Kane lifted a backhand over Berra’s glove and broke the hearts of the Flames faithful. Ultimately, another goal that Berra would like to have back.
WHY THE FLAMES LOST
Despite having to play from behind, the Hawks were the better team for the majority of the game and outchanced the Flames 17-9 overall in the game. The Hawks were and are, by every conceivable metric, the better team and the Flames are simply a defensively porous club. It looked as though some opportunistic scoring might mask that deficiency tonight but alas, Patrick Kane proved otherwise.
Also, the final goal was a bit of a groaner from Berra who, again, was solid except for lapses in the third period. The Bob Hartley/Reto Berra bromance of lo these many weeks must surely come to an end soon enough as the Flames might as well see what they have in Ramo. He is getting the Curtis McElhinney treatment right now and it is surely not a recipe for success when he does start.
I understand that the Flames are going to lose a whole lot more games this season but this trend of imploding in the third period really does have to stop. These kinds of losses stick with fans.
|Period||Totals||EV||PP||5v3 PP||SH||5v3 SH|
THE RED WARRIOR
Well, the end of this game kind of soured the whole thing but let’s go with the much maligned Chris Butler. He played nearly 23 minutes of non-descript, solid defending. Jiri Hudler made two nice passes to set up the Flames’ goals but I feel like Mr. Butler might not be getting recognized for not being abjectly horrid these past few games and what is this season if not one to appreciate small victories?
As of late, 44 has been drastically less pepto-inducing so I feel like Butler, an avid reader I am sure, could use the pick-me-up.
SUM IT UP
The Flames, now 8-12-4, dropped a game that they inexpiably should have won despite being pretty heavily out-chanced and against superior opposition. They now head off to Anaheim to play an exceedingly rare weekday afternoon game in a rink where they haven’t won since Canada existed.
The puck drops at 2pm MT on Friday for the Flames and Ducks.